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Before you read any further, I have to let you know that this blog comes with disclaimer.   I cannot be held responsible for any damage, injury or harm either you or your computer may suffer from dribbling, cooing, or general hugging of the screen in front of you.

Because these pups are ridiculously cute.

Some of you may remember this post a few weeks back; we met Rob and Penny and their beautiful puppies.  But we had all the wrong kit.  A wide lens and no flash diffuser, the pictures were alright, but I organised a re-shoot with the pooches with the appropriate gear.

And I am oh-so-glad we did.

It has taken me an age to write this blog, so apologies if I am a little sketchy on the details.  Rob and Penny bought their beautiful Bichon Frise ‘Bo’ with them over from the UK when they moved here a few years back.  They had her bred, and she blessed Barbados with seven of these crazy-cute-canines.  They are gorgeous.

Sian and I popped over to Rob and Penny’s a while back to do this shoot, and since then, the pups have all moved on to their own homes.  But we got them, all together for about an hour.  It was an interesting shoot to say the least.

They say never to work with animals or children.  Now, I love working with kids.  In fact, it’s one of my favourite parts of the job.  I love it when we get a family with nippers.  I find children are a lot more natural in front of a camera, and there is nothing better than a natural shot of a child full on belly-laughing in the Bajan sun.

Puppies are, clearly, very different.  It is hard to get them where you want them to be – hard to get them to look where you want to, and try as I might, I couldn’t make them laugh.

 

But they look gorgeous all the same 🙂

 

Thanks for reading guys.  Keep on snapping.

x

Last night was our friend Kate’s birthday.  She manages an uber-chic, turbo cool club here in Barbados…so Sian and I stick out like sore thumbs.  Whenever we go there, we have a fabulous time, but it is one of those places people go to party and be seen to do so, which is not really our thing.  However it was her birthday and as we don’t go that often it was all very exciting 🙂

We got a call from the lovely Rob and Penny who were organising a few cheeky pre-party-put aways, and so we headed to their beautiful new house beforehand.

Now, obviously, going to a party, we had to bring our camera.  But being that our wonderful Nikon D700 weighs approximately 950 tonnes alone, we couldn’t take the full bag with our vast array of lenses.  So I packed the normal party kit.  Our super sharp, uber wide angle 14mm-24mm, a flash gun and some cheap radio triggers.   We take the wide angle for several reasons.  First up – it looks cool.  The edges of the photos bend and distort with the barrel of the lens.  Secondly – you get a lot more things in focus (more on this later).  And thirdly, you are able to take much longer shots handheld and not get that horrid blur that every point and shoot camera in ‘night mode’ gives you.  There is a lot less camera shake at 14mm, because the lens is physically closer to the sensor. Please post a comment below if you want any more on this – but that’s it for now on camera stuff – promise!

So anyway, we headed out of the door with our patented ‘party kit’.   We got to Rob and Penny’s house and my heart leapt when we met the new members of their family.  It then quickly sank again when I remembered what kit we had with us, and all of the wonderful lenses and gels and other sexy paraphernalia we’d left safely tucked away at home.

Rob and Penny have recently had a litter of seven of these critters to mum, ‘Bo’.

And they are utterly, utterly adorable.   Being a responsible couple, they have been meticulous in finding homes for the new pups – making sure the people are right, taking them all to dog training classes, and securing each little bundle of fluff the best home possible.  But until next week they have all of them, mum and all, in their new house.

And I am going to do a proper shoot with them before they go.

But last night I had to make do with what we had.  Ideally, I would use a much longer portrait lens for these guys, but as we had the crazy-ass wide angle lens I had to just to make it work.

I love this shot – with little pooch looking out at me, nibbling on Sian’s ‘Caribbean Blue’ necklace, and Rob and Penny chuckling in the background.   But here you see one of the problems with the wide angle lens.  With a long portrait lens you get what is called ‘bokeh’.  This is the blurring effect of the background that in turn helps make your subject pop out and appear more striking.  With a wider lens you lose this effect – more of the scene remains in focus – which is why we take it out as our party lens in the first place (see first paragraph!).   In this photo you can clearly make out Rob and Penny in the background.  But if I were shooting at 200mm with a wide aperture, Rob and Penny would be turned into a beautiful swirl of buttery-bokeh, all colours and indistinguishable shapes.

So what to do with these beautiful pups? How to make them stand out against their backgrounds without that lovely portraited blur?

That’s right – you guessed it.  Flash.

Nice narrow aperture, powerful flash, 200th of a second.

Bosh

Now, these pictures aren’t perfect – the light is hard, the shadows very pronounced, and the ambient light is non existent…but I am really pleased with them none the less.  It was a down and dirty 5 minute shoot,  and I love this part of photography.  You know what you want to achieve but your kit is not ‘the right stuff’ at the time.  Despite this, with some quick thinking and light trickery I was still able to get the shots I wanted.

After the puppies, some more friends, a trip to another house and some (yummy) jelly shots, we headed out to the nightclub – which was what this blog was initially meant to be about!

It was a great night – everyone was in top form, there was a HUGE turnout and Kate seemed to be utterly happy with it all.

Hopefully you can see and agree why I think the 14-24 is the best lens for a night out like this.  When in a cramped club with little room to breathe, it captures the whole goings on.  Unlike the puppy shots, which were shot deliberately fast to kill the ambient light, these were shot at a much slower shutter speed – a 5th of a second.  This lets the sensor soak up all those lurid reds and greens and other luminescent colours the d.i.s.c.o lights throw up.  I love it.

At about 3am, the uber – cool – retro – house – funk that we had been strutting to was quickly replaced with what can only be described as “Bondage Rap”.   Clearly “Ganster Rap” is oh-so-passe nowadays…

I love hip hop, but cannot fathom why anyone wants to listen to tripe like “face down, eyes up, that’s the way we like to f” – you get the idea.  I adore my music, and like to think I am ‘down’ with the kids…but seriously, who benefits from this horrificness?   Who enjoys listening to a guy rapping (to a FAT beat, I admit) about having violent intercourse with a girl half his age ‘cos that’s how we do it in my hood’?  Does anyone even care about the lyrics of  music anymore?…I don’t know – that’s a blog for another time.  Point is, we had an awesome night, and called it quits before I stopped the music and lectured everyone on the finer points of hip hop and sent them all home with no supper.

The only thing I regret is not getting a shot of the birthday girl herself, but Priva have their own photographer (who is very good). Being in the game I know how annoying it is when someone starts getting in the way and shooting stuff you are being paid to capture.   It usually ends up being a “my camera’s bigger than yours’ scenario and no one likes it.

And that brings us up to this morning.

Bleary eyed and fuzzy headed, (becoming a bit of a theme of late since work has quietened down so much) Sian – somehow – woke up full of beans and convinced me to go to Hunter’s market.  I was promised coffee, and pastries and all manner of things, not to mention a chance to see our good friends Ally and Billy there too…but when we got there, the weather was not on our side.

I felt a bit like the girl in the song from last night:

But a hearty lunch with our friends later and a lazy Sunday has left us in great stead for the week ahead.

Hope you all have an awesome one too.

Thanks for reading guys

x

As you all know, I love shooting weddings.  It’s the best part of the job out here in Barbados.

When I can get away from boring things like staff wages, VAT returns and fixing the never ending tirade of computer malfunctions and machine errors, there is nothing I like more than shooting a happy couple out in the sun.  And the only thing better than that is when we get to go somewhere new.

The business we are in relies heavily on Hotel world, and so we shoot 99.9% of our weddings in the same locations.  Don’t get me wrong – the locations are always gorgeous, and we are spoilt for choice when we shoot.  With gardens, water features, sugar mills and, of course those beaches to choose from, couples are always staggered with the shots and videos they receive.  But when we get a bride enquire about a wedding somewhere new, we all get a bit giddy at the thought of some new locations and the escape from our (idyllic) norm.

So imagine our delight when Sian received an email from an expectant bride asking about us shooting her wedding at the famous Hunte’s Gardens?  It is a well known spot, tucked away in the hilly area of St Joseph and without a doubt the best sign posted attraction in Barbados.  It always tickles me whenever we embark on an adventure like this – as we invariably get lost on the bumpy back roads when signs we have been religiously following for hours suddenly disappear…but fair play to Hunte’s – they are consistently dotted around the island, leading the horticultural-hungry tourists directly to the beautiful wrought iron gates.

A narrow pathway and greeted by a nice young man, and this is the site that awaits you.

It is beautiful.

Of course, being that we are professional photographers, and that we were coming to see the site namely for the sake of research, we picked the absolute worst time to go to the gardens.  As you will see from the ridiculously hard light, we got there at about 1pm – when the sun is at both its highest and hottest in Barbados…so you will have to forgive me with the crazy contrast and reflective palm trees – but it was our day off and we wanted to make the most of it…so I just gave it my best shot.

As we wandered down the narrow, steep path, you could literally feel the trees ‘breathing’ around us.  By the time we got to the bottom of the sink hole the garden lives in, the air was heavy with humidity, and the smells were all encompassing.

Sian’s hair was glad to soak up some of the moisture too, and within five minutes it had expanded a third in volume…which gave me something to chuckle about as the sweat began pouring off my face like a scene from Airplane.

And so for the next half an hour or so, we wandered around the beautiful gardens, nattering away about the endless possibilities, accompanied only by the songs of the nesting birds above, and the wind blowing through the palms.

It really is quite a place.

Despite the crazy-hard light we had given ourselves to work with, I am fairly happy with the shots we got on the day.  But one of the hardest things I found was conveying the sheer size of the gardens.  Although the grounds are not enormous in acreage, the site is so steep, and Mr Hunte has ingeniously used every available inch to maximum effect.  I am not a fan of this shot, but Sian is, and she is my harshest critic – so if it’s good enough for her then, well, it goes up on the blog:

After a while, we started to wander back up to the old plantation house that overlooks the epic gardens, safe in the knowledge that there would be a rum punch for us at the top of the hill.  That was what the literature said, and that was how Sian had convinced me to leave the cosy AC of home to embark on this little adventure in the first place.

Sian spotted this half munched leaf – obviously a hungry caterpillar – but clearly not a Frangipanni, as the leaf has barely been touched! I love how uniform the nibbles are:

As we approached the building, we were met with the most fabulous site – a fully dressed dining table that looked like something straight out of Narnia.  The whole thing was littered with dried flowers and palm leaves – I have never seen anything quite like it.

After a lengthy discussion of just how ever-awesome this venue would be for weddings, we finally got to the top of the hill, and were met by the wonderfully welcoming Anthony Hunte – the man himself.   Comfortably reclined in a huge sofa, Anthony was deep in conversation with two other visitors – Simon and Christine.  He invited us to sit and have a rum punch, and soon we began chewing the fat.  It was a fantastic afternoon.

And just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, Anthony unleashed his jewel in the crown – the cherry on the cake for this wonderful venue.

Flora.

Oh. My. God. This dog is awesome.  So awesome that even Sian: champion of Cats – resenter of the canine and slayer of all that drool, fell for her:

Flora did what all good dogs do for the rest of the afternoon.  She did the rounds and made sure everyone was where they should be – made sure her dad Anthony was being looked after by these strangers in her house, and then when satisfied all was well, would come and demand a cuddle from her master.

I am sure I am not the first visitor, and I certainly won’t be the last to Hunte’s that has thought about kidnapping that wonderful pooch.  She really is a corker.  And my camera loved her.

By the end of the evening, we had drunk far too many rum punches, taken far too many pictures of the dog, and had been eaten alive by the pesky sand flies.  At about 8pm we finally left our wonderful host and two new friends, a quick call for a lift home and the adventure sadly came to an end.

But we WILL return!

 

 

Thanks for reading guys x

Following from my previous post, you all know that Sian and I stayed with two of my best buds Will and Eddie in Will’s house out in Carlisle a few weeks back.   And, while we were there, we fell in love.

Not with each other – I have ensnared Sian for over 11 years now and am fairly confident she has done all the falling she can for the time being.  But we met Will’s dog, Lois.

And she is all kinds of awesome.

Although only with her for a few days, it was very obvious to us how this (let’s be honest, beautiful) Labrador has made our dear friend Will’s life so, so much better over the last few months.

Poor Will has had a tough time of late, and seeing him in his new home with his new dog, Sian and I were both utterly relieved and immensely happy.  She truly is man’s best friend.

And she adores Will.

We had a late train home on the Saturday night, so Will kindly offered to take us out to Corbridge via a rather splendid butchers.  With the car heavily laden with a ridiculous slab 0f fresh silver side, camera gear and a dog, we set out along a fantastic Roman Road that ran parallel with Hadrian’s wall.  And what a day it was.

Upon arrival in Corbridge, Lois leapt to attention, only to drop her smiling eyes at the site of a famous kitchen shop that Sian and Will found fascinating.  After the obligatory walk around, we fetched the intrepid traveller from the boot of the car, and to her disgust, put her on the make shift lead Will had fashioned from a strap he uses to attach his canoes to the roof of the car.  Lois doesn’t need a lead, but the general public do tend to get a bit antsy when they see a pooch roaming free on the pavements.

We bumbled around the beautiful town of Corbridge for a few hours, and then headed down to the river bank to let Lois (and Will) have a play in the river and stretch the legs.

There is a beautiful bridge in the town, which Sian later quipped was probably how the town got it’s name.  She imagined the Scots seeing it from afar and saying ‘Cor! Bridge’…you may have had to have been there, but I found this hilarious.  Anyway, I felt obliged to get a snap of the said monument, but I’m afraid I rather let the squad down on this one with an average at best attempt – but I had to share it none the less in order for the narrative to make sense.

There were some ducks chilling out in the fast moving water, and in an homage to my dear mum who reads this blog religiously, I thought I would give her a snap of one…she freaking loves ducks.

And then Will found a stick which Lois quickly became very fond of.  Casually throwing it into the running river, Lois had no qualms jumping in to rescue her beloved piece of dead wood.  It was amazing how strong she is, and how well she fought the fast moving current.

We then retired for some ginger ale and olives whilst Lois ran around the trees, like the middle class tourists we are.  Watching the river run by, and enjoying the sun on our backs…it really was a lovely, lovely day.

At this point, I already knew that I would be writing a blog about the day, and the sheer awesomeness of Lois doting on Will – and I knew I needed a portrait of them together to tie the whole thing up.

They say that you should never work with children or animals…but I was working with a soggy dog and Will.

Believe me, this is much, much harder.

But I think I got there in the end:

I love these two shots.  Lois dotes on Will in a way I have never seen in a mutt before.  He looks left, she looks left.  He shows interest – she shows interest.  He laughs, she wags her tail.  They really are inseparable…and both are happier for having each other.

Even Sian started to see why people like dogs so much – which is a big step in the right direction for this canine lover.

So we headed back to Carlisle station to catch some fish and chips and the train, but not before we stopped off at the local paper mill (factory?!)  to capure this magnificent site:

Thanks Will.  And thanks Lois.

We had a great time

x

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So, I have looooads of piccies to share with you today, which is crazy exciting, but the first thing I need to share is the big news that my little sister (in law, technically) Caragh is out here staying with us and it is AWESOME to have her here 🙂

Already she is putting up with my terrible mood swings, the constant cursing about work, the team and all the other boring stuff everyone goes through on a daily basis with good stead and (I hope) is having a good time.  Today we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset…there wasn’t much to report unfortunately due to the bad weather again, but we whipped out the umbrella and off camera flash to produce this corker:

It’s amazing; I have known Caragh for over 11 years now and it seems like only yesterday  she was telling me about the Tweenies* when I had picked her up from her primary school…Now she is all set to go to Sheffield Uni (can I get a whoop whoop from all the coal mining crew?) and looking absolutely stunning as a young woman.  I am also very excited to FINALLY meet her long term boyfriend Johnathan who will be joining us shortly here in Barbados, I can’t wait to meet the guy that can hold his own with Caragh…I already have the utmost of respect for him 😉

So anyway, back to piccies.  These last few days I have had an epiphany…So used to the smaller sensor of my D80, I have been used to shooting at relatively slow shutter speeds, hand held.  60th/50th or around there.  With a wide lens this is fine…with a 35mm on the D80’s smaller sensor you can just about get away with it, but on the FX sensor at 50mm opening the shutter for that long a time has been giving me a serious case of camera shake…I have been looking at my pictures thinking “Why so soft? This should be tack sharp”  The penny dropping could be heard in Alaska….what a clown shoes.  To show you what the hell I mean, I would like to share with you a few piccies of some dogs we were lucky enough to meet the other day.  Sian and I headed to an amazing property called ‘Fustic House’ at the North of the island.  I would love to show you some snaps, but it was a work thing and therefore I have no copyright and the project is not yet finished.  When it is up online, I shall gladly point you all in the right direction.

Anyway, it is an old plantation house and absolutely incredible.  I won’t try and describe it, because my lexicon can’t and won’t do it justice, just take my word for it – it’s amazing.  And it is owned by a lovely family who own a plethora of dogs.

And I love dogs.

 

Big time.

 

Needles to say, as soon as we had a natural break in filming, i whipped the D700 out and got these portraits…but see if you can spot where I went wrong:

In this shot, I was way, way too wide. (my aperture was too big) and you can see that the photo is not sharp because I was shooting at the fabled 60th of a second…fine when shooting 35mm – even 50mm on the dump D80, but inexcusably so on the D700 at 50mm.  It’s amazing how I still fall into these bad habits of compromise – I forget how powerful the D700’s ISO is…what I should have done was ramp the ISO to say, 4000 and shot at 200th and f8 at least.   To add insult to injury, I missed the focal point on the dog’s eye anyway…so a pretty dire attempt in all.

Sorry.

I like this one a lot more…the focus is right this time (thank God) and I have shot here at  a faster shutter speed…but I am still not happy that I shot so wide – I wish that I had less depth of field and more of the dog’s droopy expression in focus…

But, never one to be deterred by utter rookiness, I looked forward to my next great pet adventure, eager to try my new theory of higher shutter speeds and narrower apertures.  So when we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset (see, there was a point of me telling you that all thsoe paragraphs ago) we were met by our resident cats.

And I hate cats.

 

Big time.

 

But Sian’s family have an amazing black and white cat called Lucy who has slowly won me over in the recent years that I have got to know her…she is evil and sadistic and loves the fact that I am allergic to her and falls out of trees…deep down, it pains for me to admit that she is really quite quality.

Our resident cats on the resort are not the healthiest specimens..they are usually missing chunks of fur from fights, or carrying a litter and set to burst (seriously, how often can one cat be pregnant in a year?) but they are very friendly, and the ones who came over today were surprisingly photogenic.  Before the sun disappeared, I got one of this guy:

Which I was pretty proud of, and then we spotted this guy chilling out:


And then the sun disappeared…so Caragh got roped into holding flash for me whilst I got these three corkers:

…and to be honest, I am chuffed to bits with them.  So, a lesson well learned – if you take dump photos the first time round, don’t panic, just work out where you went wrong, and have yourself another go 🙂  It’s what I do almost ever day…

Thanks for reading guys.  Keep on snapping.

Ferg x

 

*The Tweenies was a terrible kids show that ran in the UK for a long time…they were dump.